The One With the Good Intentions

A few weeks ago, I bought Reggie a new dog bed. It’s a hypoallergenic, cooling, memory foam, plush, state-of-the-art, super duper, space-age bed. This is a dog bed fit for Canis Major, the king of the dogs.

Reggie hates the new bed.

He will go so far as to lie next to the bed. On the floor.

I’ve tried to show him the fabulousness of this bed. I put treats on the cushion to lure him into the bed. He would eat the treats and slink away. Then I put the old bed cushions on the new bed to transfer the eau d’ Reggie. No dice. As a last ditch effort, I sat in the bed myself. I realize this was ridiculous. He knows how to enjoy a dog bed. He used his old bed every day.

This was taken during the thirty seconds Reggie used the new bed.  I'm not ashamed to say I bribed him with cheese.

This was taken during the thirty seconds Reggie used the new bed.
I’m not ashamed to say I bribed him with cheese.

Then why buy a new bed? The old bed was getting a bit tattered and the stuffing had gone lifeless. Reggie has some arthritis in his back legs and I thought he’d need something with better cushions.

My mother had some silly advice. “Why don’t you just let him use the old bed? He obviously likes it better.” Pfft.

Yet I conducted a mini-experiment.  I put the old bed back, he climbed in. I put the new bed down, he stared at it unflinching. Deep breath. Was he doing this to annoy me? Okay, I know this isn’t really about me. But I want him to want to use the new bed. I want him to be comfortable.

My mother again. “Despite your good intentions, maybe he is more comfortable on the old bed.” Good intentions. The road to Hell’s Kitchen is paved with them.

A work friend knows this all too well. She took her two children, ages seven and four, to Disney World during Spring Break. She’d been planning the trip for months. She had it all mapped out: where they would stay, the daily itinerary, meals, a breakfast with princesses. She was careful to include breaks, making sure the kids weren’t overwhelmed. The vacation wasn’t cheap, but she and her husband had scrimped and saved. I bet you know where this story is going.

From the moment they arrived at the Magic Kingdom until the day they left, the kids (and, she admitted to me sheepishly, the parents) were in complete meltdown. It was hot and humid. The crowds were suffocating. There was whining, kicking, screaming. One princess had to excuse herself to clean vomit from her gown. But a real low point came when my friend dragged the older child to the It’s a Small World ride saying, “Stop crying! We paid $400 to come here today.”

She was horrified, but she meant well. She didn’t want to throw in the towel. They could still salvage what was left of the trip. If her family could just get it together, then things could end on a high note. If Reggie would just enjoy his new dog bed, I’d feel so much better.

I learned that good intentions gone awry have a lot to do with our expectations. There are strings attached to our good intentions. We expect our thoughtfulness to be received a certain way and we’re surprised when the recipient doesn’t match our enthusiasm.  That leads to disappointment and frustration. We want others to share our vision, and when they don’t, it can be difficult to part with the original expectations.

Reggie still isn’t using his new dog bed, but I haven’t given up hope yet.

Have a great weekend, everyone! 

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31 comments

  1. Hi Jackie. Your post made me laugh and remember all those “melt downs” when we were supposed to be having a great time with our son. One especially bad time we were visiting the Tower of London and we saw a young teenage girl having a “time out” on the way up the tower. That made us feel so much better! As for Reggie, well….dogs have their own wisdom and opinions…so I guess he’s letting you know he’d like you to return the new bed! Is it too late to get a refund?

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    1. My friend also reminded me that, during that fateful vacation, she told her child, “We’re going to have a good time, whether you like it or not.” I think that about sums it up. 🙂

      Too late to return the new dog bed, but I’m holding out hope he decides to use it. Have a great weekend, Patti!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, I can relate, Jackie! I’ve tried all kinds of beds for Rocky and he hates most of them. Can you put the old one on top of the new one? I had to do that and it worked out well. But then the other day he dragged one of his beds into the bathroom and slept on the hard slate floor. Dogs! 🙂

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  3. Has Reggie been fraternizing with felines? Or toddlers? Both are somewhat notorious for being beguiled more by the boxes/bows/wrapping paper than by the thoughtful (and often pricey) gifts they contain. I say keep the bed, and if he, in a month or two (a couple of dog years) shows no interest, donate it? I know space is a consideration in apartments….maybe put the new bed under the old bed? Then swap?

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  4. When Lotte lived with me she absolutely refused to sleep in any dog bed and believe me I tried. Her place was on a particular share or in front of the fire in the winter, but best of all was sleeping on Mama’s bed with Mama. I donated the five or six dog beds that I bought during her short life to the SPCA. They can always use them. And Reggie is one smart dog – when we figures out that you were being nice to him, he will oblige and sleep in the bed for one night perhaps. 🙂

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  5. Oy. My cupboards are full of expensive, rejected dog and cat treats and toys. Dried salmon. Treats that are supposed to be good for Zeus’ old joints. A squeaky toy Zeus won’t touch, though he does get excited when we squeak it.
    I wonder, do they smell something we cannot? Do they have some sense of something not quite right with the stuffing, or taste?
    Whatever it is, our animal loves certainly have their individual wills and tastes!
    (P.S. That looks like a very nice bed.)

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    1. You may be right about that, Cythina! I bet dogs can smell a whole host of things that influences their opinion about a toy or a bed. Reggie will only play with plush toys. Balls or anything rubberized do not pass muster for him. (I can’t tell you how many toys I bought before realizing that!)

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  6. This made me laugh because I too once curled up in Blossom’s new bed to show her how great it was and to give it “mommy” smell. I distinctly remember Blossom and my husband gazing down at me from the bed like I had lost my mind. And we eventually gave it away because Blossom remained unconvinced and refused to set paw in it.

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  7. I was in California recently visiting my siblings and Thurber, my family’s dog. He has several lying around spots including a bed he curls in off the kitchen. I think that bed is as old as Thurber (8 going on 9). It sounds like Reggie has more Prince and the Pea in him and his old bed just feels better. But, it is frustrating when one’s best intentions are rejected. I feel your pain.

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  8. Duuuuuuuude I totally understand. I didn’t experience this with my dog, but yes with my kids. Ha! Just recently too, but I learned not to force the situation, the grand master plan, and things sort of seem to fall in place themselves. Too funny sorry Bout the the dog bed though, those were some great intentions. Have a good week.

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  9. Oh, I’ve been here! With dogs, cats, children…and parents! It’s so frustrating when you just want to do what’s ‘best’ for them, but they’re not interested. I love that line, ‘We’re going to have a good time, whether you like it or not’! Sums up most family holidays! x

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  10. You are so right about the expectations. There have been Christmases where I didn’t give a rat’s patootie about what I got – I had found what I thought was the perfect gift for someone else and all my energy was focused on seeing the look of profoundly moving delight and gratitude on their face. And, of course, those responses were more like, “Oh, that’s nice.”

    They are clueless about why I am bummed and disgruntled all day, but I know it’s me and my stupid expectations projected on to them.

    We had a similar Disney experience with one crucial difference: in the middle of every day we went back to the hotel for a nap, lunch in the room and a dip in the pool. It was so hot it was setting records, but when we headed back out to the parks at around 3 we were in pretty good shape.

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  11. You know . . . this is a wise observation: “There are strings attached to our good intentions.” It is VERY hard to be 100% altruistic. Reminds me of the song in Wicked “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished.” I hate to think of it that way, but it can feel that way. It’s a worthy endeavor to try to remove any expectation from our part of giving– hard though!!

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    1. Oh, yes, is it hard! I have to remind myself not to take it personally, often it has nothing to do with me. Actually your friendship columns serve as good reminders. That is spot on advice in many of your responses.

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